Pilot's scathing attack on air safety agencies

FIRST ON 7: A Sydney pilot who ditched his plane into the ocean has launched a scathing attack on Australia's air safety agencies.

Three months after a damning report into the accident, the pilot has told 7News the Government has done nothing, and he warns it could happen again.

Pilot Dominic James has effectively flown to hell and back.

It has been almost four years since he ditched his medivac flight off Norfolk Island, and he only now has his jet licence, and his life back.

"There are so many people who feel strongly on what's gone on - and are really desperate for things to be straightened and set right," James said.

"I think a large amount of cover up was going on."

The accident happened in November 2009, and at first, James was blamed and shamed.

But a Senate inquiry this year found not only was operator Pel Air also at fault, so too were Australia's aviation safety watchdogs.

The Senate report was scathing of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), finding audits had been hidden, lies told, and the original investigation a whitewash.

One former safety chief says that it has ruined Australia's safety reputation.

"This ATSB report has turned that Triple-A status into junk status overnight," former CASA Deputy Mick Quinn said.

That was in May, and the Government is yet to respond.

The Transport Minister said he could not and would not act, because Parliament is suspended.

"Well, we're actually in caretaker mode right now, you might have noticed Parliament is not sitting," Anthony Albanese said.

But the former deputy of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said caretaker mode should not get in the way of aviation safety.

"The disturbing thing is, safety is no longer the priority," Mick Quinn said.

The Senate Inquiry thought the situation was so serious that it asked the Federal Police to investigate our safety watchdogs - that is unprecedented. The Minister says that he is not concerned.

"Well, anyone can refer anything to the Federal Police," Minister Albanese said.

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